Posts Tagged ‘Contadora’

We’re Outa Here!

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Alright, I know my 8 readers are getting tired of waiting and as this is not the Game of Thrones I have doubts as to how much longer they’ll wait.

Some who follow on Facebook and others who keep in personal email contact will know we have traveled to the Galapagos.  So here begins the 3 part series on the trip.

Contadora, Las Perlas, Panama

Contadora, Las Perlas, Panama

We left Contadora, Las Perlas, Panama on Saturday, March 29th at 10 ish. We had some chores to do in the am before we upped anchor and with those completed we lead the way with two boats, Jean- Maria and us.

We traveled down the W side of the Perlas and there pointed S. Winds were fair and we traveled slower than our best but were comfortable enough not to be concerned. I had hoped to clear the S end of the Perlas before sunset and we did. As we approached the S end we passed a rather large turtle going the other way, just a foot or so below the surface. For the most part we flew under the Yankee Jib alone with our wind vane blocks and line yelling at us the whole way.

As we began to exit the Gulf of Panama the sea turned and the surface became a mess. That is the most accurate description. We had a fresh breeze pushing us along at 5-6  kts and the seas looked mostly like the surface of a frosted cake. However the surface also ended up with two patterns for the swell, one from directly behind and the other from the W. On the boat it felt like we were being tossed about in a wash machine.  Other than that we were fine with the wind vane lines and blocks talking to us the entire way.

The night was odd. We were cold. Here we are in the tropics and W/ and I found we were putting on layers to stand our watches. We had thought to try 5 hours on and 5 hours off having heard that if you can get close to 5 hours of continuous sleep you can mostly feel refreshed. But…..

I just can’t stay up that long. So both of us stayed up as long as we could; usually 2-3 hours then switched. During the day who ever felt like taking a nap did and after the first 3 days we were tired but not exhausted.  Then sometime on W’s watch I was

Old Lines Passing over Non Rotating Blocks

Old Lines Passing over Non Rotating Blocks

awakened with a big “BANG”!  W/ said to me something happened with the Windvane; she’s now calling it Oscar, and I wobbled out of my warm berth, donned my gear and added the safety harness to head topsides. There I found that one of the control lines had parted. Not to worry. We are after all an offshore cruising boat and I have more line. So I go to retrieve the new line, route it and then we connect the vane again and the boat begins to sail itself.  I head back to my short and blessed dream land.

The seas were so rough during the day that I never put out a fishing line. We had gone through many sail changes, poling out the Yankee, gybing, putting up the main, reefing the main, taking out the reef, and then working with the Yankee again I was getting tired of the constant wind shifts. Hell, we are in the Pacific where the wind is to blow consistently and the swells are to be far apart. On day 3 we had 10 – 15′ swells with about a 6 second interval. It reminded me mostly of Caribbean sailing.  And I am blaming it all on the Humbolt current and cold water upwellings. The Humbolt current is a  cold water N bound current that follows the S. American coast and upwellings are cold water that rise from many km below the surface of the ocean and are nutrient rich. Those upwellings are the heart of the rich fishing industry that inhabits this coast.

Sometime during the second day on my evening look around for problems I discovered that a bolt had disappeared from one of the blocks on the wind vane control lines. Into my fasteners locker I go to find a replacement and once found decide to move the block to a more favorable position.  That completed W/ heads below for her first off watch tonight.

However we are now out of Panama, out of the Gulf of Panama and well on our way to the Galapagos.

Life is good!

What value would life have if there weren’t challenges to overcome?

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Frustrations

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Yep, when one is ready, one is ready. We’re ready to go and things just seem to drag on. We went back to Panama City to get our extended Visa for French Polynesia and the month was up on the 14th. We call the Embassy on  the 12th  and no they haven’t heard yet. Kim on North Star applied the day after we did. They called on the 12th and that evening they received an email saying come and get them. Oops, however it takes two days.  We ask Kim to ask them for us too!  A little subtle pressure is always good.  The following day we call, “No, haven’t heard”.  The following day we call, “Not yet”. It is now past the month that we should have received an answer from.  I’m starting to understand people’s frustrations with bueracracies. We figure Monday when W/ calls she’ll ask if there is a problem. If it comes down to it we figure that will just be money left on the table and walk away from it. We can’t wait forever, we are ready.

Then we go to Marina Warehouse to see about our motor for the generator.  We get lucky and catch Arturo in. He tells us there’s some difficulty at Customs with everyone’s order. He hopes tomorrow. We check tomorrow and he hopes Friday.  We wait. I’m getting a lot of practice waiting and I’ve never been good at it.

Years ago when I was under the influence of family my mom would drag me to Church. When you are only 7 or so drag is the best description. What 7 year old can sit still for an hour listening to stuff he can’t even see and play with. So my mom in her infinite wisdom figured I needed “sitting” lessons, or better “sitting” practice.  I don’t’ remember how long those lasted but I do remember the frustration of sitting on a chair in the dining room. I think I somehow only had 2 or three practice session and I would have thought of those as pure torture. I’ve not gotten much better at patience.

Kubota Stored under our Aft V Berth

Kubota Stored under our Aft V Berth

Finally, Friday we actually had the new motor on the boat. We used another cruiser to assist in lowering it to the dinghy (it only had a mass of about 45 kg’s) and we used a halyard to lift it on the boat. Put it in the cockpit to work on moving it below for stowage. Yeah, stowage. Our other motor is now doing fine so we’ll most likely be the only boat crossing the Pacific with a spare generator motor!

Monday arrives and we head to the French Embassy for the extended Visa. We sit in the waiting room for about an hour, the agent appears takes our Passports and tells us to return tomorrow between 10 and 12. We do, where she then advises us to stroll the old city because it will be another 45 minutes. We return for

Inside the French Embassy

Inside the French Embassy

another 30 minute wait and then we receive our Passports back with the extended Visas in them. Sweet. Back to the boat and get ready to leave. Only need to add some fuel and do a last minute shopping trip.

The following am W says the sink drain looks funny. I investigate and find the pot metal nut on the bottom of the drain rotted away and now it has separated. I look for our spares ( I have spares for most everything) but can’t find any spare nut nor tail piece. DAMN! While W/ hits the markets I hit the hardware store and buy the needed pieces. Or I had thought I did.

Returning to the boat I begin the task of fixing the drain and adding a shelf for where we will carry the spare motor.

The drain went well for about 10 minutes, then installing the new plastic nut the tail piece fell out. She looked right. But obviously not. I pull it back off and find that the flange on the tail piece is just a hair small for the nut. DAMN!  Tomorrow I get to go to the hardware store again.  Then I purchase a new tail piece and check to make sure it matches the nut. I was smart 🙂 I brought a new nut with me to make sure.

Back at the boat I install the new items and the sink is back in service. I finish the shelf for the engine and W/ and I lower into place.  We talk to Jackie on Jean-Marie and borrow their diesel jugs so we don’t need to move the boat to pick up fuel and then we’ll be all set.

I had hoped we would in and out of PC in 3 days. It was optimistic and most would never describe me as such. I did guess that I could be off by a day or two but the total time in PC was 10 days!  Finally, we’re ready to leave Panama.

We head to the Perlas to wait for weather and complete a few more tasks. I know just hanging in La PLayata our bottom has suffered a bit and with the new rules in the Galapagos I need to dive and make sure our bottom is spic and span. Here we go!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Got Outa PC

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

We’ve pulled up anchor and we’re moving. Yep out of Panama City. We’ll return one more time to pickup the new Kubota, some more supplies, and the French Polynesian stamp; then we’re outa here. About time. But now we’re heading to Contadora, Las Perlas.

For  most  of the trip we motor. Best motoring one can have. The seas are so small we have no spray. The cockpit shade is up and we’re heading about 120 degrees. There is a small current against us but we persevere. We have two fishing lines out, my secret weapon; the lure that is under the surface, and the Dirk lure; the surface lure but this time without the hook protector. Yeah, he left the protector on for our last trip here.

Young Bull Mahi-Mahi

Young Bull Mahi-Mahi

About 1/2  way there we hook a nice small Bull dolphin and thanks to Dirk and Silvie’s advice I actually land him. I do it all Dirk’s way. Get him up to the boat as fast as I can and then grab the line and swing him aboard. No fancy gaff, no net. He jumps a few times on his way to the boat trying to dislodge the hook and I pull him across the top of the water as rapidly as I can. While he’s out of the water he has no control. At the boat I swing him aboard and W/ throws a towel over his head. Blinded he calms down a bit. I hold head and tail while W/ grabs a small line and a knife. I tie a noose around his tail and to the boat. I’m not losing this one! And then I slice his gills and we hang him upside down in a bucket to bleed out.

An hour later I begin to clean him. But my tush is no where near as petite as Silvie’s and I just can’t handle a knife, the fish and myself safely in the gunel so W/ assents to me finishing him up on the cockpit sole. Once competed we have some nice fillets for quite a few meals.

Soon after the winds pickup and we motor sail the rest of the way through some Red Tide areas and finally make the turn to Contadora where we unhappily pick up  some spray covering the port side with salt water. Oh well, guess it had to happen. It just  couldn’t have been a “perfect day” only  close.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Light Speed Part II

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Light Speed part II

We left the nice quiet, calm, bug free anchorage and began our trek back N towards civilization. We left early enough to make our approach during good light but this left us fighting the current and adverse wind around the W side of the Perlas. We were motoring so this was not a comfortable ride. I have a simple philosophy: If the time required to work the sails and set everything up and take everything down is greater then the travel time then the payoff isn’t worth it-so we motor. Granted this was close call, but we still have to motor in and out of the anchorage. Plus I get the added benefit of running the refrigeration system. So we motor.

Contadora, Las Pearlas Islands, Panama

Contadora, Las Perlas Islands, Panama

After a mildly rough ride we begin our approach to Contadora, the semi posh tourist town in the Perlas.  The anchorage isn’t the best but we do hope to avoid the “Bouncy, Bouncy” we’ve had more frequently then we would have liked.  The anchorage was farther from the beach then I had hoped for; in approx 50′ of water but we were here, the anchor down, and we were relatively calm. Dirk chooses to hang on the boat,  playing with my computer stuff, making sure it all works right and is integrated properly. He used OpenCPN with most of their circumnav and I’m just learning it. So the “younger brother* is teaching the older one the tricks of that program.

W/, Silvie, and I went ashore, to get some more gasoline for the dinghy and scope out the island. We discovered it was quite different from those on the Caribbean side. The roads were in good shape, we

Deer in Panama

Deer in Panama

walked without fear of being run over, and we discovered deer!  What a surprise. They seemed about the size of Key Deer and they were a little shy but not like the white tail deer in the states that at a whiff of people they would be off bounding across fields and jumping barbed wire fences like us walking over a crack in the sidewalk.  These deer hung around for a bit and then slowly meandered off looking for more food to forage.

We found that on Contadora some of the population still believe in siestas. The gasoline store (not gas station) was closed so we meandered to the beach, some shade and a few cool beers. An hour later we too had slowed down to latin time and took about 15 more minutes to decide that we could indeed wander back towards the boat and pick up some gasoline, then see if Dirk was sound asleep or into other mischief. As usual, he was into mischief, still on my computer making sure it is configured right for OpenCPN, making sure the peripherals worked and then attempting the tough task of showing me what I need to know.

But I resisted the class room approach. We had only had breakfast; well, I  and W/ did, Dirk and Silvie had their required 36 cops of coffee ( I exaggerate a wee bit), and I was getting low on blood sugar and cranky. The girls pushed and pushed (really I did but I do like to blame them) and we all finally crawled in the dinghy for a trip to a real restaurant. There in I gorged on food and lacking social amenities slurped my beer. As all of us were hungrily eating no one noticed.

That evening it was decided to head the following day to Taboga and the day after to Panama City where our well worn crew was to depart. 🙁  .  In sailing circles we often say plans are written in water and this is a perfect example of that saying. The following am our crew changed their minds and we were to head to Panama City and skip Taboga.  We had a leisurely breakfast (W/ and I) Dirk and Silvie received their oral injection of caffeine, we picked up anchor and motored West to round the Northern end of the Perlas. Once free of the islands we hoped to sail.

And sail we did; for about an hour. Most of 30 minutes the winds were steady and we were heading in the right direction. We had our fishing lines out; Dirk with his fancy surface lure and the hook protecter REMOVED! I with my dirt cheap hand line.  Near the end of the hour the winds were going light on us, the wind vane lines having been connected backwards sorted out, we chose to furl the sails and start the engine. So it is again, we motor the last 30 miles back to PC.

Our 12 lb Tuna

Our 12 lb Tuna

Somewhere not long after and maybe a little before we made this change; I received a strike on my hand line. Again the clothes pin was snapped but the fish wasn’t at the surface. I began to tug on the line and indeed there was a fish. We repeated the previous fishing experience, Dirk swinging it on board, Silvie severing the gills and hanging it upside down. This one; a 12 lb Tuna was going to be food for awhile. We pulled in our lines and took care of the boat for the rest of the trip. Dirk playing (he would say “working on”) OpenCPN and making sure the AIS was working.

We were not getting any AIS signals in Contadora and Dirk thought we should be. I wasn’t worried but worse case scenario is that we travel the Pacific without the AIS. The boat traffic in the S. Pacific is quite minimal and in Samoa we’ll be able to replace the box. But as in many of life’s little adventures; patience works wonders and as we came closer to the Panama Canal AIS targets began to show up. Wonderful!  One more item I don’t need to replace.

We arrived back in Panama City anchoring on the side within full view of the Panama skyline. There we set about cleaning up the boat, preparing dinner and cooling off with some really, good, really cold, Balboas (the Panama) beer. After a dinner of fresh Tuna we chewed the fat, told some more lies (sailing stories), all over some invented drinks by W/ and Silvie; Coconut water with Rum and Coconut water with Coconut Rum.

The following day our crew packed up. While it was a sad time, we know as sailors that there are no goodbyes, only Ciao; until we meet again. I dropped them all off at the beach; since low tide was now, and motored over to the “stairs of death”- the cruisers dinghy dock. W/, Silvie, and Dirk hauled their bags up the beach over the rocks and parked at the restaurant until I arrived for breakfast. There a quiet meal was had, taxi hailed, hugs shared and waves goodbye.  As with Jenny leaving, Dirk and Silvie left a hole in our hearts as they headed back home to the land of everything.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

* Sometimes in life you discovered people very much like yourself. Dirk and I are in many ways similar and a few not; one’s good looking and the other is smart 🙂 , one prefers to move often and the other very little. But we both love the water, we both are cautious, conscientious sailors, we both love beer (but I can’t keep up with him anymore) and in many ways we are more alike than different. Silvie and W/ sometimes smile when one of us mimics the other in words or actions. So I think of him as my little brother. He is one of the few people that I would trust my boat to, knowing that it would be returned to me in as good as or better shape than I left it. Trust is one of the few things in life that needs to be earned (IMHO) and he has earned it many times over.